One year to the day since global health leaders met for the G8 Dementia Summit in London, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, Alzheimer’s Research UK, has launched a Global Clinical Trials Fund to fast-track research into new treatments for dementia. The dedicated Fund, which aims to make £20m available for early-stage trials over the next five years, will support world-wide studies into new treatments for diseases like Alzheimer’s. The Fund is one of a suite of announcements made by the charity this year as part of its £100m Defeat Dementia fundraising campaign and has just opened for its first applications.
Dementia affects 830,000 people in the UK, with the figure expected to hit a million by 2025. As well as presenting huge personal costs, the worldwide economic impact of dementia each year is US$604bn and £23bn in the UK. Despite a growing government focus on dementia to improve the lives of people living with the condition, there is a paucity of treatment options available to help those affected.
Current treatments, which act to boost nerve cell communication, can help with the symptoms for a time but do not slow or stop the underlying diseases from spreading damage across the brain. At the Dementia Summit in London one year ago today, G8 health leaders stated an ambition to find a ‘cure or disease-modifying therapy for dementia by 2025’.
Clinical trials are a key final stage in the development of any treatment, intended to the test of safety and effectiveness in the people they are designed to help. The Global Clinical Trials Fund will support phase I and II clinical trials to ensure that researchers can explore more potential avenues for intervention in people than ever before.
The Fund is now open to applications from research teams across the globe and will not only support trials testing new experimental drugs, but also drugs already licenced to treat other conditions that could be ‘re-purposed’ for use in dementia, and non-drug interventions. The flexible funding scheme will support trials for treatments aimed at relieving symptoms, as well as those designed to halt diseases like Alzheimer’s in their tracks.
Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“One of the most life-changing breakthroughs that dementia research will deliver is effective treatments for people living with the condition. Clinical trials are vital for putting new treatments in the hands of people with dementia, but with 99% of drug trials for Alzheimer’s failing in the past decade, they represent a difficult area for funders to invest in. We are committed to turning this tide with our Global Clinical Trials Fund, which will provide dedicated support to make sure that the best ideas, backed up by the strongest science, have the greatest chance to succeed.
“We are proud to be leading the way in the UK with strategic and global research opportunities that we are confident will drive forward progress to change the lives of people with dementia.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:
“Clinical trials are vital if we are to achieve our goal of improving the lives of those with dementia and their families. We’re doing more than ever to identify new treatments and, ultimately, find a cure. I strongly welcome this Global Clinic Trials Fund, which will make an important contribution to our shared endeavour by accelerating crucial new research.”
World Dementia Envoy, Dr Dennis Gillings, said:
“All extra investment in dementia research is to be welcomed and this kind of project will take us a step closer to the goal of a cure or disease-modifying therapy by 2025. But there is still a long way to go. Every effort has to be made to ensure that dementia receives the same levels of investment as other diseases such as cancer – which currently receives 10 times more investment in the UK than dementia.”